Being at risk of redundancy is challenging, with heaps of mental stress piling on top of practical worries. How are you going to financially cope until you find a new job? How long have you got left in your role?
You’re entitled to certain employee redundancy rights if your job is dissolving. You may decide to challenge the decision if you feel you’ve been unfairly treated.
We’ve laid out all the facts to help you if you’re at risk of redundancy. First, let’s clarify what we mean by redundancy, as your rights are very different if you lose your job for another reason.
What is Redundancy?
You’re made redundant when your job no longer exists. It’s usually a result of the company needing to reduce its workforce or the business ceasing altogether. Sometimes it’s to do with a change of location.
Redundancy isn’t an option employers take lightly, and they must explore all other options before deciding on redundancy. For example, they may offer you the chance to work reduced hours or change job roles.
If redundancy is the only viable option, an employer must follow certain processes and adhere to certain employee redundancy rights.
Employee Redundancy Rights
A lot of your rights depend on how long you’ve worked for your employer and the size of the organisation. Certain processes differ if higher numbers of people are being made redundant.
Let’s explore the redundancy process and employee redundancy rights.
Consultation When at Risk of Redundancy
Employers must consult with everyone in the workplace, even if they’re not at risk of redundancy. They need to inform you of upcoming changes, giving you time to ask questions and talk through any concerns.
There are different types of consultation based on how many people the company is planning on making redundant. It becomes more structured if more than 20 employees are losing their jobs:
|Number of Redundancies
(within 90 days)
|Type of Consultation||Timeframe|
|1-19||Individual. Your employer doesn’t need a collective meeting and can discuss it with you one-on-one||Within a “reasonable” timeframe|
|20-99||Collective consultation with a union rep and/or elected employee representatives (if neither are available, it can be with individuals only).
It’s best practice to speak to employees individually as well as send out details in writing.
|30 days before the first employee is dismissed|
|100+||As above||45 days before the first employee is dismissed|
The purpose of a consultation is to have a meaningful discussion with your employer. It’s your chance to offer suggestions as well as ask questions. Your employer doesn’t have to implement your ideas, but they should listen to you and consider any suggestions.
When choosing who to make redundant, employers cannot discriminate against any protected qualities, including age, race and gender. Instead, they must base their choices on business needs and the roles no longer required.
You may be able to appeal the decision or have a case for unfair dismissal if you’re at risk of redundancy and believe you’ve been unfairly selected. See the “Appealing Redundancy” section for further details.
The length of your notice depends on how long you’ve worked for the company and what your contract states. By notice, we mean how long there is between your employer informing you of the redundancy and your last working day. If you’re at risk of redundancy, you must know your rights on this.
Redundancy laws in the UK state the following notice periods:
|How Long You’ve Worked There||Notice Period|
|1 month to 2 years||1-week minimum|
|2 to 12 years||1 week per year worked|
|12 years +||12 weeks minimum|
Check your contract before accepting these timeframes, as it may state different or longer periods.
Some employers will pay you for your notice period rather than asking you to work it. They’ll pay you a lump sum, which gets taxed in the normal way, called pay in lieu of notice.
You may be entitled to redundancy pay depending on your age, how long you’ve worked there and what your contract says. Your employer will have to explain to you:
- How your redundancy pay has been calculated
- When you’ll receive your pay
- How you’re going to get paid and whether it’s a lump sum or instalments
Redundancy in Pregnancy Rights
A woman who’s pregnant or on maternity leave has slightly different rights when it comes to redundancy. Laws are in place to ensure a woman is not disadvantaged by having children. The protected period lasts from pregnancy until the end of maternity leave.
The law states an employer cannot make a woman redundant purely because she’s pregnant. Otherwise, it’s classed as unfair dismissal. The same applies if an employer doesn’t consult a woman about redundancy because she’s on maternity leave.
If a woman is made redundant while she’s on maternity leave, she has the right to be offered a suitable alternative role without having to apply for it.
If you’re pregnant and at risk of redundancy, request to see the selection criteria. This should be transparent to everyone involved and be both objective and measurable.
You can appeal if you believe you’ve been unfairly selected for redundancy or your employer hasn’t followed the correct procedures. After all, there are employee redundancy rights for anyone at risk of redundancy.
Some employers have an official appeals process you can follow. For others, you can send your concerns in writing or raise a formal grievance.
What to keep in mind when appealing:
- Stick to reasonable timeframes. Don’t leave it 6 months before appealing.
- Seek help from a Union rep or elected employee representative
- Ask for someone not involved in the selection process to handle it
- You can ask for someone to attend meetings with you
In some circumstances, you may wish to seek external counsel. A business adviser or financial consultant can offer mediation services to help resolve disputes.
The appeal meeting will give you an opportunity to discuss your thoughts and explain why you feel you’ve been unfairly treated. Your employer will then let you know if they accept or reject the appeal.
A Recap on Redundancy
Being at risk of redundancy is never a pleasant experience, but it’s much easier when you know your rights. We’ve compiled this article based on the latest information available. If you need tailored advice for your circumstances, it’s always best to seek help from an expert.